I’ve officially been in England for a whole month! It’s hard to believe. But since I’ve been here, I’ve really been trying to get a feel for life in the UK; eating British food, drinking lots of tea, paying attention to British fashions, and so on. Obviously there are lots of things that are different in the UK as compared to America, most notably things like public transportation, accents, use of words, and an affinity for tea. However there are lots of subtle things that you might not notice until you’ve been here for a while and really get a good look (and taste) of the country. Here are things that I’ve noticed:
M&M’s taste different. I’m not crazy, I swear! But I’m very particular about chocolate because I don’t like it overly sweet. I can’t eat straight milk chocolate. So if I buy M&M’s, I buy the peanut ones. Or the dark ones, if they’re available. But the peanut M&M’s here taste SUPER sugary!! The shell is crunchier and actually hurts my teeth because of the sweetness. It’s very strange.
Coffee is richer. Again, I don’t know how to explain it, but it just is. It’s still bitter on its own, and I definitely need to sweeten it, but it has a different taste. It’s better somehow.
The traffic lights are different. They’re still red on top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom, but the middle light gets “used” more frequently. Like the lights in the US, it turns yellow right before it turns red. However, it happens the other way around too! When the light is just about to turn green, the red light stays on and the yellow light goes on too. It’s like a little “ok, you can start pressing the gas now” indicator. Pretty neat.
Soup is thicker. I have yet to have a ‘broth’ soup. Every single soup I’ve had is a thick potato-y or creamy soup. It’s more like a meal than a side or snack. I love it.
Peanut butter is just different. I’m not that picky about peanut butter, but my absolute fave is crunchy Jiff. I haven’t been able to find any familiar brands since I’ve been here, but the popular brand (at least as far as I can tell) isn’t like Jiff at all. It isn’t as sweet, although I wouldn’t call peanut butter sweet. I don’t know what the difference is, honestly, but it sort of tastes like natural peanut butter but has the consistency of non-natural, if you get what I mean. Except it doesn’t have as much oil. And could probably use a bit more salt. But then again, everything here could use a bit more salt.
The toilets flush differently. Yeah, it’s weird. And random. I’m not sure how to explain it, but they just do. The water doesn’t swirl the same, it just sort of gushes. Random fact.
There’s (almost) no point in using an umbrella. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that umbrellas are futile. You see, if it’s drizzling, then it’s so faint that no one bothers to put up an umbrella, so you look like a dumb tourist if you do. And when it drizzles, it starts and stops frequently, and you’re probably wearing a good coat so you really won’t get that wet. But if it’s actually raining enough that you would need an umbrella, it’s also really windy. When I say windy, I mean you feel as if you’re about to be knocked over. Either your umbrella gets turned inside out, or if you bend your umbrella toward the wind then you’re allowing the wind to basically push your entire umbrella (and therefore you) backwards or sideways. And even if your umbrella miraculously survives, the wind is still blowing the rain all around, so you’re bound to get wet. Moral of the story: wear a hat, scarf, and coat, waterproof boots, and just put your head down when it rains. And don’t carry a laptop in your bag.
Soy milk is called ‘soya.’ Yeah, fun fact. It’s random. But it’s useful for when you go into a coffee shop and look to see if they offer soy milk in the menu. It’s simply labeled ‘soya.’
Everything is carbonated. Well I mean, all cold drinks are. I ordered a lemonade the other day because the meal came with a drink and I didn’t want soda…and I got a “soda” anyway. Even water, you have to specify whether you want “still” or “sparkling.” And also on the topic of drinks, they don’t put ice in theirs. Which is totally fine because it’s definitely too cold to go putting ice in your drink…I’d rather have tea anyway.
Google gets different logo changes. I don’t know why I feel like this is a big deal, but it is. At first I thought that the UK didn’t get any of the same logo changes as America…but actually all over the world on any given day, lots of different countries get country-specific logos for famous people’s birthday, or holidays, or anything special. I found out that there were three separate New Year’s logos on February 10th, because not only does China celebrate it, but Korea and Vietnam each celebrate it as a new year too. But in any case, Google is different. In a cool way.
Coin size makes no sense. At least in America, you can generally tell how much a coin is worth based on its size. Quarters are huge compared to pennies. The only real exception is the fact that the dime is rather small compared to a nickel, but you still get the idea. Here, however, there are twice as many types of coins, and they’re all super different. The 50 pence coin is huge and easily distinguished, but almost the same size as the 10 pence coin. And then there are these little 20 pence coins, and even smaller 5 pence coins, and then a huge 2 pence coin. The cents make no sense.
Tea isn’t just a drink. The best part about tea: it’s warm. Someone once said that tea is like a hug in a cup. On a cold, windy, rainy day, tea just warms you from the inside and reminds you that life is good. It doesn’t even matter what it tastes like.
So here’s to another month in the UK! I hope it is equally if not even more lovely than it has been so far.